HISTORY WARS

THE ENOLA GAY AND OTHER BATTLES FOR THE AMERICAN PAST

Linenthal (Preserving Memory: The Struggle to Create America's Holocaust Museum, 1995, etc.), Engelhardt, and six other historians use a bitter controversy to consider America's attitudes toward its past. The curators of the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum planned an ambitious exhibit centered on the Enola Gay, the airplane used to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. The exhibit, marking the event's 50th anniversary, would have described the intense desire to end the war that led to the bombing, but also the way the bombing's nightmarish effects infected the world with fear of nuclear annihilation. Conservatives claimed the exhibit would be anti-nuclear and anti-war, throwing into question the decision to drop the bomb, and would transform the Enola Gay's crew from heroes to terrorists. Under relentless attack, the museum backed down and its director resigned. The Enola Gay is now displayed virtually out of context. These essays take the controversy as the starting point for ruminations on American attitudes toward war, the nuclear age, and, with exceptional insight, history itself. The writers are not uniformly supportive of the planned exhibit: Former air force chief historian Richard H. Kohn concludes, for instance, that it wasn't a balanced presentation; New York University history professor Marilyn B. Young says that it was. But there is unanimous regret among the essayists that an opportunity was lost, as Kohn writes, ``to inform the American people . . . about warfare, airpower, World War II and a turning point in world history.'' The Enola Gay conflict, writes University of Wisconsin history professor Paul Boyer, was about ``the disparity between the mythic past inscribed in popular memory and the past that is the raw material of historical scholarship.'' This round of history wars, conclude the writers in this excellent collection, was won by the myth-makers.

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 1996

ISBN: 0-8050-4386-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1996

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A sleek, vital history that effectively shows how, “from the outset, inequality was enforced with the whip, the gun, and the...

AN AFRICAN AMERICAN AND LATINX HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

A concise, alternate history of the United States “about how people across the hemisphere wove together antislavery, anticolonial, pro-freedom, and pro-working-class movements against tremendous obstacles.”

In the latest in the publisher’s ReVisioning American History series, Ortiz (History/Univ. of Florida; Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in Florida from Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920, 2005, etc.) examines U.S. history through the lens of African-American and Latinx activists. Much of the American history taught in schools is limited to white America, leaving out the impact of non-European immigrants and indigenous peoples. The author corrects that error in a thorough look at the debt of gratitude we owe to the Haitian Revolution, the Mexican War of Independence, and the Cuban War of Independence, all struggles that helped lead to social democracy. Ortiz shows the history of the workers for what it really was: a fatal intertwining of slavery, racial capitalism, and imperialism. He states that the American Revolution began as a war of independence and became a war to preserve slavery. Thus, slavery is the foundation of American prosperity. With the end of slavery, imperialist America exported segregation laws and labor discrimination abroad. As we moved into Cuba, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico, we stole their land for American corporations and used the Army to enforce draconian labor laws. This continued in the South and in California. The rise of agriculture could not have succeeded without cheap labor. Mexican workers were often preferred because, if they demanded rights, they could just be deported. Convict labor worked even better. The author points out the only way success has been gained is by organizing; a great example was the “Day without Immigrants” in 2006. Of course, as Ortiz rightly notes, much more work is necessary, especially since Jim Crow and Juan Crow are resurging as each political gain is met with “legal” countermeasures.

A sleek, vital history that effectively shows how, “from the outset, inequality was enforced with the whip, the gun, and the United States Constitution.”

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8070-1310-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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